Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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November 27, 1997

Picture: A Puritan And Her Progeny Among the usual pleas for advice to the lovelorn, money for the penniless, and succour for the stupid that one receives every week, one occasionally receives a variety of correspondence known as the 'greeting card.' Yes, for those out there who have not mastered the art of putting an actual pen to paper, there is an entire industry based upon putting insincere sentiments into the mouths of the untaught. More often than not, these billet doux are decorated with woodland or floral still lives. Occasionally, however, they will be adorned with the sender's favourite cartoon characters such as 'Charlie Brown' and 'Sloopy.' How charming it must be, to send one's nearest and dearest a two-shilling card printed on cheap pulp that will only be discarded the next day, and to support the corporate conglomerates in their rampant quest to shake the last farthings from their customers' purses.

At any rate, one received several cards this week from one's readers in the United States exhorting one to enjoy a happy 'Thanks-giving.' As one has never been clear upon this Thanks-giving business, one sat one's secretary down in one's study and begged him to explain the phenomenon. One's faithful readers can spot one's first mistake right off. One should never ask one's secretary anything. It is much like handing a quill to a plate of cherry jelly and requesting that it compose something along the lines of Shakespeare's The Tempest (and we will all remember from our last column that the Bard of Avon was mostly likely not the author of that classic work).

One's secretary informed one that Thanks-giving was a holiday in which the Pilgrims 'shared corn with the Indians and were real happy about it so they ate it and stuff.' Apparently over the centuries the holiday has become an excuse for the Yanks to stuff themselves with roast fowl and congratulate themselves on getting all the corn.

But then, the Yanks always have celebrated strange things, haven't they? Take Mother's Day, for example. A day to honour Mothers. Jolly enough. But this holiday begets Father's Day. Harmless, you say? Let the two holidays too much proximity during the sultry months of May and June and what do they spawn? Children's Day! And then Grandparents' Day!

The creeping grasp of holiday greed does not even limit itself to their families, readers. First came Secretary's Day. And then Boss's Day. And then, as if in retaliation, Secretary's Week. Readers, the day one celebrates Secretary's Day will be the day that one's Secretary looks up from his pop music-induced haze and pronounces a three-syllable word that can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Even more recently, one has heard that their entire country is celebrating the extraordinary feat of a woman. What has she done? Has she written, as so many other women have, a literary work that has stirred the heart and the mind? Has she risen to fame and admiration in the business world, providing others of her s-x an example to emulate, as have so many other women? Has she been a teacher, a nurturer, a thinker, a loving and good person? None of these things, as far as one knows despite all the attention given her. But one does know that this particular woman has been a highly efficient breeding machine, producing seven children at one go.

Readers, one does not disparage the miracle of childbirth. But to celebrate because a woman produces septuplets, while the good deeds of woman and men across the world go unnoticed and unheralded, is the sign of misplaced priorities. Gracious, the Lady Felicia's bitch Solange whelped eight purebred puppies last spring, but one does not see local businesses rewarding her with free houses, diapers, vidiot cameras, and lifetime supplies of Puppy Biscuits.

Enjoy your Thanks-givings, readers. American or not.

Just noticing the wet stain one's secretary left upon one's good leather chair, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Retching writes:

Picture: Asleep at the OperaDear Sir Charles,

Last evening one attended the theatre and had the misfortune to sit in front of a family that obviously had mistaken live theatre for the cinema, as they began snacking upon a confection they called 'gummy bears.'

Apparently there was but a single box of this delicacy for a family of four, and the box rattled each time it was passed among the group. Not only did they eat this confection rather noisily, but they discussed at length the problems of it sticking to teeth (from the tooth-sucking and lip-smacking sounds behind one, one dared not turn around, you may be sure!) and the fact that all three female members of the family had one or more artificial teeth (the mother proudly noted that she had three sets of bridgework. One supposes she had an everyday set, a Sunday set, and . . . no, one will not suppose when the other set might be used).

A few moments after the play began, the family's conversation was cut short, as--thankfully--the actors were more skilled in projection than were the family members. However the box-passing and gummy bear ingesting continued. Following intermission, they switched their confectionery preference to peppermints (which had the advantage of not sticking to teeth, thereby curtailing certain topics of conversation).

So disgusted was one by the family's confectionery consumption, that one almost commended the man sucking quietly on a toothpick in the row in front of one on his exceptional manners.

Tell me, Sir Charles, is there any hope for civilization?

Retching in Roanoke

Sir Charles replies:

Gentle Reader,

No, there is not.

Modern critics might decry such a declamation, but one suspects they know it is true, in their hearts. One has only to overhear snippets of conversation at every restaurant or public place to know that we are in an irreversible decline. 'When I was a girl,' they begin, or 'When I was a lad. . . .' The sentence generally ends with a phrase such as 'my parents would never have let me scream that way in public without shushing me' or 'we never wore dungarees with the waistline below the buttocks so that our underwear was exposed to view' or 'we never ate without separate shrimp-forks!'

Public manners have eroded to such an extent that even in places such as the opera and the theatre we are subjected to listening to comments our seat-neighbours would commonly make in the privacy of their own dens. But Reader, do not give in, however great the temptation. Do not let your baser impulses to bash in the skulls of these loutish barbarians overtake you. Summon the ushers. Those torches of theirs are much more suitable for head-smashing.

Wishing the reader forbearance and patience, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Mr Higgenbothem writes:

My Dear Sir,

As I sit in my dreary abode whilst the everpresent rain continues to drip endlessly down the glass, my thoughts turn to England and I find myself once again searching for an explanation to a most perplexing conundrum.

Why in bloody hell can't you people make a decent car?

I remain, skeptically,
J. Higgenbothem

Sir Charles replies:


As if we don't all remember the Pacer.

Wishing you more rain, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Lady Jasmine writes:

Picture: A Maid of Many Talents My Dear Sir Charles.

Much Thanks for your lovely, and oh so selfless, advice concerning a certain inflatible livestock.

Unfortunately, the Said Creature suffered a small but fatal accident with my sewing scissors and I was unable to ship it to Blandsdown as you had proposed. All is for best, I am sure.

Instead, I am sending to you by third class train, Alice our newly hired kitchen maid who had unexpectedly replaced the ewe in Albert's affection. While Alice is said to be useless in the kitchen, I have heard glowing thing regarding her ability in the bedroom. Handy with a broomstick, I presume.

She is anxious to leave my employ as soon as possible, for the fear that she might happen upon the same accident as had befallen "the love ewe". Quite a wise girl, for one of her class and tender years.

Hope she meets with your approval. I am certain that her talents will not go unappreciated.

With regards,

Lady Jasmine Hallfax Countess of Snowbourgh

Sir Charles replies:

Lady Jasmine,

It is always a pleasure to receive gifts from one as cultured and generous a one as you.

However, one must confess that one was not able to sample Alice's skills. Handy with a stick though she may be, the Lady Felicia happened to be closer when the post came in that day. One heard the words 'The cheek of that woman!' jettisoned forth in a heated, though ladylike manner, the sound of the door slamming, and the roar of the Rolls. And that was the end of Alice.

One believes she will be arriving on the 1:10 from Fishampton. If you have forgotten what she looks like, you will be able to pick her out of the crowd, says the Lady Felicia, but choosing the girl with the words RETURN TO SENDER scrawled across her forehead in Cool Crimson lipstick.

Regretfully, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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